December 11, 2001

(Revised December 21, 2001)



Subcommittee Members



Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, Chairperson

Kate Blavat, Ameritech Wisconsin

Peter Gardon, U.S. Cellular

Paul Jadin (Grant Staszak), City of Green Bay

Larry Knegendorf (Chris LaRowe), Baldwin Telecom/WSTA

Jay Maritz, Walworth County

Drew Petersen, TDS Telecom



Other Contributors and Observers



Mickey Beil, Dane County Executive Office

Cindy Broyderick, Cingular Wireless

Liz Buchen, Nextel

Rich Eggleston, WI Alliance of Cities

Tom Fonfara, Voicestream Wireless

Patrick Fucik, Sprint Communications

Chet Gerlach, Sprint Communications

LeAnn Krieg, Wisconsin NENA

Dan Leary, Voicestream

Mark O’Connell, Wisconsin Counties Association

Carol Rochester, WSTA

Kathleen Schnagl, Milwaukee County Sheriff Department

David Sleeter, Rock County and Wisconsin NENA

Scott Stenger, Verizon Wireless

Todd Stuart, Governor’s Office

Mark Wadium, Outagamie County

Jeff Wiswell, WI Sheriff’s & Deputy Association



Subcommittee Staff


Tom Rhatican                                                                                        John Stolzenberg

Executive Assistant, Senator Fitzgerald                                                                     Legislative Council








Changes in the Revised Version of the

Report of the 911 Subcommittee Dated December 21, 2001


  1. The Board’s name was changed to “Wireless 911 Board.”
  2. The surcharge label was changed to “Wisconsin Wireless 911 Surcharge.”
  3. A provision was added to commence surcharge collection from wireless providers’ customers starting July 1, 2002.
  4. The Board was given the flexibility to provide grants to a wireless provider over multiple grant cycles and to prorate grants to wireless providers in any given grant cycle.
  5. The authority for the Board to transfer funds from the PSAP grant account to the wireless provider grant account was rewritten.  If there are insufficient funds in the wireless provider grant account, and there are funds in the PSAP account that are not “encumbered” for more than three months (i.e., a “surplus”), the Board may transfer funds from the PSAP account to the provider account to ensure cost recoverability for the wireless providers.  Wireless providers must also repay the amount of the transfer in a timely manner as prescribed by the Board. 
  6. The costs of PSAPs’ operators were made ineligible for recovery in a grant, and the PSAPs’ remaining expenses eligible for recovery in a grant were clarified.





Representative Phil Montgomery, Chairperson of the Telecommunications Task Force, created the 911 Subcommittee on October 4, 2001 and appointed Senator Scott Fitzgerald the Chairperson of the Subcommittee.  The Subcommittee held seven meetings in Madison on October 4, 10, 17 and 31, November 13 and 28 and December 7, 2001.

The Subcommittee focused its deliberations on the creation of enhanced wireless 911 services in the State of Wisconsin.  There are presently about 1.5 million wireless phone subscribers in Wisconsin.  The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has recently published estimates that, nationwide, about 30% of the 150 million calls made to 911 services in 2000 were from wireless telephone users.  NENA expects wireless telephone users to make a majority of 911 calls by 2005.

Compared to traditional wireline-based 911 systems, wireless 911 presents additional challenges to both service providers and local public safety answering points (PSAPs) in being able to accurately locate the location of a party calling 911 for emergency assistance.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has addressed these shortcomings in a series of orders to wireless providers.  The FCC’s phase 1 requirements require covered wireless providers to provide to a PSAP the telephone number of the originator of a 911 call and the location of the cell site or base station (e.g., cell tower) receiving the call.  Under the FCC’s phase 2 requirements, upon request from a qualified PSAP, a wireless provider must provide as part of the 911 call to the PSAP automatic identification of the caller’s location based upon either handset-based or network-based technology.  Depending upon the technology chosen by a wireless provider, the FCC requires the location accuracy to be down to 50 meters for 67% of the 911 calls handled by the provider and to 150 meters for 95% of the calls

The Subcommittee determined that one of the major barriers to the implementation of enhanced wireless 911 systems in Wisconsin is a lack of funding for both wireless providers’ and PSAPs’ equipment and operating expenses.

To address these funding needs, the Subcommittee developed a legislative proposal modeled upon the State of Indiana’s wireless 911 program.  The Subcommittee’s proposal calls for the creation of a statewide uniform surcharge on wireless phone users’ bills.  The $0.70 monthly surcharge in the proposal is comparable to the monthly national average wireless 911 surcharge in other states of $0.72 per month.  Under the proposal, revenues from the state surcharge are administered by a new state board, the Wireless State 911 Board.  The board is composed of experts from the wireless telecommunications industry, PSAPs and local governments.  Revenues will be used by the board to fund both the providers’ and PSAPs’ eligible wireless 911 systems expenses.

Details of the Subcommittee’s proposal are set forth in the drafting instructions that follow. 





·       “Board” means the Wireless 911 Board.

·       “FCC order” means the Federal Communications Commission’s orders on wireless 911 service in FCC docket No. 94-102.

·       “PSAP” means a public safety answering point.

·       “Wireless provider” means a commercial mobile radio service provider subject to the FCC order.

Creation and Operation of Wireless State 911 Board


·       Create the Board consisting of 12 persons appointed by the Governor, with six representatives of wireless providers and six representatives of local governments and public safety personnel.

·       Establish that members of the Board serve for staggered three-year terms and that a member may not serve more than two consecutive three-year terms.


·       Attach the Board to the Department of Electronic Government for administrative purposes under s. 15.03, Stats.

Board’s Responsibilities


·       Direct the Board to collect the Wireless State 911 Surcharge, distribute funds and collect and report annual cost data for PSAPs and wireless providers to the Governor and the Legislature under s. 13.172 (2), Stats.


·       Authorize the Board to contract for an independent audit of a wireless provider’s cost recovery request or of a PSAP’s wireless 911 program.  Require an audited provider to provide relevant confidential information to the auditor.

·       Direct the Board to provide public information on the Wireless State 911 Surcharge.

§        Authorize the Board to establish an 800 telephone number directly or by contract to assist the public.

§        Authorize the Board to require wireless providers to list the 800 number on a bill directing customers with questions or concerns to contact the Board.

·       Authorize the Board to initiate an action to collect unpaid surcharges.

·       Authorize the Board to promulgate rules necessary to implement its responsibilities.

·       Authorize __ positions for the Board (level of the Board’s staffing to be determined, subject to the 1% cap on the Board’s expenses given below).

·       Authorize the Board to take other necessary or convenient actions to implement its responsibilities.

Revenues – Wireless State 911 Surcharge

·       Establish a “Wisconsin Wireless 911 Surcharge” with the following features:

§        The surcharge shall initially be $.70 per month per mobile telephone number that has a billable address in Wisconsin.

§        The surcharge shall be uniform statewide.

§        The Board may raise or lower the surcharge as necessary to fund the expenditures specified below, provided that the Board may not increase the surcharge more than once per calendar year, more than $.10 per increase, or above $1.00.

·       Direct wireless providers to collect the surcharge from their customers and authorize a wireless provider to retain 2% of the amount of surcharge it collects for administrative costs, including collection and remittance expenses.

·       Require wireless providers to identify the surcharge on a separate line on a customer’s bill, labeled as the “Wisconsin Wireless 911 Fund.”

·       Establish that a wireless provider may not prorate the monthly surcharge and shall collect the full amount for a partial month of wireless service.

·       Establish that a wireless provider is not required to take legal action to enforce the collection of the surcharge.

·       Establish that a wireless provider shall commence collecting the surcharge from its Wisconsin customers subject to the surcharge on a customer’s first bill issued by the wireless provider after July 1, 2002.

§        If the Board is appointed by July 1, 2002, authorize the Board to establish its collection form and policy as an emergency rule without the finding of an emergency under s. 227.24 (1) (a), Stats.

§        If the Board is not appointed by July 1, 2002, direct the Department of Electronic Government to prescribe a form and collect the surcharge from wireless providers.

¨     Authorize the Department to establish its collection form and policy as an emergency rule without the finding of an emergency under s. 227.24 (1) (a), Stats.  [Note:  Under s. 227.24 (1) (c), Stats., in general an emergency rule remains in effect for 150 days unless the period is extended by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules.]

·       Require wireless providers to remit surcharges collected by the provider to the Board or Department for deposit not more than 60 days after the end of the calendar month in which the surcharge was collected.

·       Require the Board and the Department to deposit 50% of the surcharge revenues available for grants into an account for wireless providers’ grants and 50% of these revenues into an account for PSAPs’ grants.


Grants to Wireless Providers

·       Establish that any wireless providers capable of providing access to wireless 911 service in Wisconsin is eligible to receive funding from the Board.

·       Specify that a grant to a wireless provider shall be for the actual expenses incurred by the provider to upgrade, purchase, lease, program, install, test or maintain all necessary data, hardware and software required by the FCC order.

·       Establish that the Board may provide recovery of a wireless provider’s eligible expenses over multiple grant cycles.

·       Authorize the Board, if there are insufficient funds for wireless providers in any given grant cycle, to award expenses on a prorated basis.

·       Authorize the Board, if there are insufficient funds in its wireless provider grant account and if there are funds in the PSAP grant account that are not encumbered for more than three months, to transfer funds from the PSAP grant account to the wireless provider grant account to ensure full cost recovery by wireless providers.

§        Condition this transfer on the wireless grant account repaying the PSAP grant account the amount of the transfer in a timely manner pursuant to a repayment plan prescribed by the Board.

Grants to PSAPs

·       Establish that a PSAP is eligible to receive funding from the Board, once the PSAP is providing wireless 911 service or has begun implementation of wireless service and is in compliance with the wireless 911 requirements established by the FCC order.

·       Specify that a grant to a PSAP shall be for the actual expenses incurred by the PSAP that are directly and primarily for the lease, purchase, or maintenance of a wireless PSAP.  These eligible expenses include the following:  (1) necessary network equipment, computer hardware, software, data base equipment, radio and telephone equipment within the physical PSAP location; (2) training of PSAP operators; and (3) network costs for delivery of calls from a wireless provider to the PSAP.

§        Exclude the following nonrecoverable expenses from a PSAP’s grant:  (1) any emergency service dispatch expenses, including personnel, training, equipment, software, records management, radio communications, mobile data network systems, unless those expenses are an eligible expense identified above; (2) vehicles; (3) equipment in vehicles; (4) communications equipment or software used to communicate with vehicles; (5) real estate; (6) improvements on real estate, other than modifications necessary to maintain the security of the PSAP; and (7) PSAP operators’ salaries and benefits.

·       Establish that no PSAP may recover from the Board a total of more than 50% of its eligible expenses, provided that the Board may provide recovery to a PSAP over multiple grant cycles.

·       Authorize the Board, if there are insufficient funds for PSAPs in any given grant cycle, to award expenses on a prorated basis.

Board’s Expenses

·       Establish that the Board’s expenses may not exceed 1% of the surcharge revenues submitted to the Board.

Miscellaneous Provisions

Treatment of Records

·       Authorize the Board to withhold from public inspection any information which would aid a competitor of a wireless provider in competition with the wireless provider.  [This open records exception is based on the exception in public utility law, s. 196.14, Stats.]

·       Direct the Board to establish procedures governing documents Board members may access to protect confidential business information in invoices submitted by wireless providers to the Board.


·       Direct the Legislative Audit Bureau to periodically conduct a financial audit of the Board’s programs.

Prohibition on Other Surcharges

·       Establish that no state agency or local unit of government may levy a surcharge or fee relating to the provision of wireless 911 service that is collected or paid by a wireless provider.

Tax Exemptions

·       Establish that the surcharge is exempt from state and local taxation, including the sales tax.

Wireless Provider Liability

·       Establish that a wireless provider shall not be liable to any person who uses a wireless 911 system funded under this program.  [This is the same liability waiver as for telecommunications utilities providing wireline 911 service under a 911 system created under s. 146.70, Stats.]